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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Villasante

Forgive the lateness of this post, but I only just got laptop back from Apple. Oh, how I've missed you...

During last year's Pennwriter's Conference I listened to my future agent (never gets old, saying 'agent') Barbara Poelle, talk about how to become as knowledgeable as possible about the industry and your craft. Read a ton, in and out of your genre. Look at shelves in the bookstore to see how books are marketed, where they are located. Figure out where you would be. Go, alphabetically and find the actual physical space where your book would be. Then buy a copy of the books on either side of you.

I did this and after some wandering around and a promise to reward myself with a cup of tea and a scone, I found where I'd be, in teen fiction (Barnes and Nobel calls it that, not me), subset fantasy, on the bottom shelf, next to Scott Westerfield. Not a bad shelf mate to have, I know, but it got me thinking about my name. I've always had a love hate relationship to my name. It's fairly unusual and it's not unpronounceable with extra letters and silent g's or anything. It just seems so unlikely to me, that it would be on a book. I think about my blogging buds and their last names. These are the names that seem to belong on book covers: Campbell, Hardin, King, Cavanaugh, Robin. Bransford (oh wait, that's already on two covers - have you got your copy of Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe yet?) But mine? 

I'm pretty sure it's the child of immigrants in me that's making me feel like that, making me feel like my name is too foreign to be on a book. I had considered using my husband's last name or a pseudonym but in the end the artifice rubbed me the wrong way. 

Now I'm trying to 'celebrate' my own name. It is what it is, after all. Mine. And unlike the mis-pronunciations of telemarketers past, it's not Belefonte, or Valente or Visante. V is for Villasante.

Do you use your own name or a pseudonym? And if you don't use your own name, why?

V is also for V is for Vendetta, which I've never seen but after reading the Fault in Our Stars, I really want to:


10 comments:

  1. There was a very entertaining Road Trip Wednesday on the subject of pseudonyms back... in January, I think. You might want to hunt that out and read what people said. People had reasons for not using their real names (or at least their real last names) that never crossed my mind.

    Not surprisingly, I use my real name, and fully intend to when I publish. The only reason I might adopt a pseudonym would be if I publish in two different genres--and then I would take my agent's advice. And since my agent will be a wise and wonderful person, I know their advice will be sound. :)

    I look forward to the day I can tell people "Speak to my agent" and actually have an agent people can speak to! :D

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    1. I remember that RTW, there were really interesting responses. And it makes sense, what you say, about the possibility of writing in different genres under different names. But I wonder, is that as necessary now? Seems like there's more crossover for authors than ever - and people reading more widely across genres. That's my impression, anyway!

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  2. I agree - keep your name. We need more ethnic sounding author names on books :) I'm of Mexican descent and write Hispanic influenced fiction. My problem is that my name doesn't sound ethnic enough to me. Blankemeier. I can also use my maiden name Calderon. But I'm leaning towards a pen name like Blanca Mayor. It's kinda like Blankemeier and has a funny meaning (Older White) lol!

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    1. I know, I should represent! You have a great name in Sheila Calderon, I think, but I like Blanca Mayor too. By the way Sheila, we still need to exchange empanada recipes!

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  3. Your name is cool. Keep it. There aren't many V names out there. It will stand out.

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    1. Thanks Christine, yours is cool too. I love names that are also sentences ;)

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  4. Great post, Alex, and I like your name! I'm using mine for now, until a publisher tells me otherwise. I thought about shortening it to "Hart," but don't want to get too ahead of myself.

    But you have a beautiful, catchy name. Very distinguished.

    New follower + stopping by from A-Z Challenge. Greetings! ;)

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  5. Hi Alyssia, thanks for stopping by. It's always good to figure out what you want when the moment comes - no matter how early on the journey you are.

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  6. I had the same problem, especially since I'm supposed to keep my "professional" life separate from my writing. But in the end, I decided that when I do finally get my name on the spine of a book, I want to be able to point to it and go "that's me!" And that kind of loses its effect if I publish under a pseudonym.

    Thanks for another great post!

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